Inside Teachers Mutual Bank's channel overhaul

Liz Tay | Jul 20, 2012 7:00 AM
Former credit union rebrands online, mobile and core apps.

Teachers Mutual Bank has credited 11 technologists and a last minute all-nighter for rebranding all phone and online banking systems, webpages, and core applications ahead of its April 1 launch.

The 46-year-old organisation was known as Teachers Credit Union until a November 2011 decision to apply for mutual bank status.

Its name change was approved by financial services regulator APRA early this year, giving e-business and contact centre manager Gerard Smith and his team less than four months to prepare for the move.

“When you change your name, your name seems to be in every file that you can find, right down to what is the core banking application called,” Smith told the BankTech conference this week.

“We really had to go through and do a lot of work and planning up front to do that.”

Smith said the rebranding exercise involved core systems, more than 2000 files in its interactive voice response (IVR) system and 720 webpages.

“You can’t just do a control find and replace; you’ve actually got to go into every page,” he noted.

“It takes about 20 minutes to change every page; I had less than four months and one staff member to do it all.”

Smith said the bank engaged a third party vendor to develop its rebranded mobile applications, but found the timeframe challenging.

While the new website, phone and internet banking systems went live in the early hours of April 1, the bank was unable to release its new iPhone applications for an additional two weeks, due to Apple’s testing and approval regime.

Smith said his team worked through the night of March 31 to rebrand its channels, only leaving the office at about 7am the next day.

But when web traffic ramped up between the usual peak hours of 7am to 9am the next morning, the site was unable to keep up with the load.

"We hadn’t cached our banners, causing a bit of a load issue,” Smith said.

In addition, Mac users were unable to access the site through Apple’s Safari browser, due to a coding error that took 48 hours to fix.

“We tested Safari, but on an iPad, not on a Mac,” Smith explained, urging conference attendees to run web traffic analytics and ensure they supported more popular platforms.

“On day one, we discovered very quickly that there was a problem on Safari on Macs. That’s a bit of a problem when you look after teachers, and in Australia, the majority of them use Macs … we resolved that in about 48 hours.”

Smith said Teachers Mutual Bank had since improved its technology testing processes, noting that the next phase of its channel overhaul was to redevelop its entire website.

“We had a fairly rigorous testing framework, but at the time, not a really dedicated testing team, which we’ve now resolved,” he said.

“We’ve now updated our test plans and put in a testing team to ensure that we do testing across all channels.”

The bank also underwent a change of CIO earlier this year, with former Westpac technology executive Dave Chapman joining the company in January.